Having played the game for over 30 years, yes I know, I’m getting old, something has become alarmingly obvious. Most player behavior is puzzling to the extent where you’re left scratching your head.
Have you ever wondered why some players command respect from their coaches and team mates while others are virtually ignored? Have you ever wondered why some players will consistently carry out instructions of one coach but only grudgingly do what another coach requests?
Next time you’re at training look around you. You’ll observe this kind of behavior and distinction with 100% certainty. If you take it one step further and watch closely, you’ll observe that some players command respect, loyalty and even admiration while others do not.
Upon further investigation, you’ll notice the players that command respect are not necessarily the best in the team. So what’s going on? What’s the difference? Can we explain this phenomenon and have you ever noticed this in the past?
If you’ve played the game long enough, chances are you’ve experienced the admiration or even the neglect. If you have not, then you’ve probably been playing soccer blindly.
Looking back to my playing days, I received a big serving of admiration from loyal fans and certain coaches. But on the same token I received periods of neglect. So how would I explain this?
Let me start with a bold statement,
“We receive the kind of treatment we think we deserve”
Sounds easy enough doesn’t? But let me explain this with a few examples.
I remember vividly the day I scored the winner in the dieing minutes to help get my team promoted. To say I was happy, ecstatic or any other word wouldn’t give that feeling justice.
The admiration, the love, the happiness, the confidence I received for the following months was unbelievable. If there was a cloud 9, I was definitely on it.
So why did I command respect, admiration, love and loyalty? Was it the goal? Or was it my persona, my altered ego or even my thinking that demanded the respect.
After the goal I walked around like I was King. At one stage I thought I was the King and I’m not referring to Elvis. Head high, chest out and a spring in my step like you wouldn’t believe. The only thing that was missing when I paraded around was the “staying alive” soundtrack playing in the background.
Thinking was the key here. I “thought I was this and that”. Believe it or not thinking does make it so. Others see in us what we see in ourselves. When I thought I was King and on top of the world, people treated me accordingly.
Okay, let’s fast forward into the start of the following season. Having partied during the off season, I arrived for pre-season lacking fitness and preparation. To put it politely, I was slightly unfit. No preparation and no fitness only leads to one destination.
Do you know where that is?
It’s called the physio’s bench. Injury killed any chance of me having a solid pre-season. The season starts and the fitness levels have not improved from my off season antics. Having just recovered from injury, unfit and lacking match sharpness the confidence levels were running at a loss. To say I felt inferior or unsuitable to compete would be an understatement.
So what happens next?
Now my thinking has changed from being the King, to feeling inferior. Also all the admiration, respect that I demanded was gone. You can’t hide your feelings and thoughts and any lie, cover up or bluff is so transparent that even a young child could see straight through you.
So what’s my point?
The player, who feels inferior or doesn’t feel important, isn’t! Simple as that!
But when you feel good and think you’re the best, you start to demand that sort of respect. At the end of the day you have to know yourself. Don’t accept your admiration as conclusive evidence that you are in fact, a good player.
So the lesson learnt after 30 years,
To demand respect, admiration as a soccer player, we must think we are important. Through this thinking others will think so too.
How you think determines how you act.
How you act in turn determines how others react to you.
So the choice is yours, admiration or neglect, I know what I’d be thinking.
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